In a move which should make most YouTube viewers rejoice, YouTube has announced that they will be ending their Annotations Editor on May 2 in favor of promoting End Screens and Cards.
In a blog post, YouTube stated “effective starting May 2, you’ll no longer be able to add new or edit existing annotations, only delete them.” The primary reason YouTube gave was that annotations did not show up on mobile devices. This is a concern as 60 percent of YouTube’s watch time is currently on mobile. YouTube said that uploaders should use Cards and End Screens, which can work on mobile devices.
Creators vs. Viewers
Reaction to YouTube’s decision in the blog post’s comments were decidedly negative, with one user stating that “Annotations are so much more versatile than end cards though! Can’t we keep both?” However, this negative response is likely a sign of the different priorities of video creators and viewers.
For those who are unaware, annotations are those boxes which can pop up at any point on a YouTube video. They have been around for a decade, and Yahoo notes that “they were important in defining the site’s early freewheeling culture.”
Creators preferred annotations as they could easily edit mistakes or put in notes with them which help people who buy YouTube views. But YouTube understated things when they observed that “viewers generally don’t love annotations.” Few things are more irritating than opening up a YouTube video only to be deluged by a wall of annotations covering up the screen with spam or links. The multiple guides which show users how to turn annotations off permanently exist for a reason.
Meanwhile, Cards and End Screens only take up a certain amount of space or appear at the end of a video, making them easier for viewers to manage.
YouTube states that annotation usage had dropped by 70 percent since the introduction of Cards and End Screens, which indicates that many YouTube channels have adjusted to using them instead. YouTube creators do have more than a month to adjust to these changes, though certain channels may struggle to use a feature which appears to lack the same versatility as Annotations.